The UBE in Wyoming: A Five-Year Assessment
This July will mark the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) in Wyoming. The announcement in December 2012 that Wyoming would become the eleventh UBE state - largely at the urging of Chief Justice Marilyn Kite - met with resistance from a number of Wyoming lawyers who wondered why any change was necessary from the tried and true system that had been in place for several decades: administration of a Wyoming essay exam written and graded by the Board of Law Examiners (BLE), followed by the Multistate Bar Exam, a multiple choice test on general law topics developed and administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE).
BLE members who graded the first UBE given in Wyoming in July 2013 were struck by how rigorous the process was for preparing and grading the national exam. Members of the BLE attend grading sessions in Madison, Wisconsin, twice each year to train on how to grade the written components of the UBE: the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) and the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE).This is a far cry from the BLE's prior experience, where board members divided the task of preparing Wyoming-specific essay questions and sample answers between them and got together later to grade the essay portion of the exam. Justice Kite, now retired, recalls, "When I learned how much more refined the UBE was in its application of scientific testing methodology, it didn't take long to realize there was a better way."
Farson lawyer Darin Scheer, who has served on the BLE since 2013, offers these thoughts on the transition to the UBE: "To be clear, I was agnostic about adoption of the UBE. I was proud to have passed the Wyoming bar exam under the old system, and counted myself among those who didn't know whether we needed to make a change. After becoming involved in the grading process, however, it quickly became clear that the UBE offers a level of methodological expertise in high-stakes testing that is essential to ensuring reliable results in an exam of this importance."
At the 2016 mid-year meeting of the American Bar...